Sleepytime New Comics Nightfall

*Because it bears repeating: how you can help Lea Hernandez, who is recovering with her family from a fire that struck their home. Updates will be here.

*I think the best thing to come out of comics stores this week is the dreamy photo of Chester Brown circa 1986 on the back cover of Ed the Happy Clown #9 (of 9). It’s worth $2.95 all by itself. Everyone who's seen it knows.

*52 Dept: I don’t think there’s ever been an issue of 52 I haven’t run at least sort of hot-and-cold on, but this one manages to encapsulate almost everything that’s kept me with the bastard thing for eighteen editions now. There’s a little dipping into DCU lore, a few tie-ins to the past and future (though some of it apparently doesn’t jibe with current continuity - as blogger and cover artist J.G. Jones puts it, “I'm still not completely clear on how all of this Shadowpact stuff turned out.”), a dab of crazy, a drizzle of goofy, off-the-cuff plotting that momentarily seems more snappy than sloppy, and some amusing interactions between cut-rate characters trying to find their way through the big, bad shared universe. In its better weeks, this is the sort of thing that threatens to give the notion of the sprawling, backstory-loaded superhero cosmos a good name.

Several plots move forward. The Question and Montoya are now the heroes of Kahndaq, thanks to their efforts two weeks ago (always fun how the complications of this series - how did our dynamic duo get found, and who told the royals? - often seem to get resolved off-page), but while the former is more than happy to leverage his new ‘in’ with Black Adam and Isis to the furtherance of his mission, the latter is still beaten up over shooing that kid. Still kind of illogical, simplistic character work, but it does give Montoya the opportunity to overload on liquor and women again, leading up to some, er, naked emotions spilling out when Adam comes looking. Keep your eyes peeled for Our Heroine plucking her hidden booze bottle out of its hiding spot, only to have the precious libation magically vanish from the entire room two panels later - ah, the rigors of producing art for a weekly series!

Meanwhile, Ralph ‘Crazy Man’ Dibny is trying to relax in Marseilles when Detective Chimp pops in with a puzzling case: the enchanted helmet of Dr. Fate has liquefied an old acquaintance of the two, so obviously that means everyone needs to take off for Egypt (thanks to some crackling good off-page detective work, I bet!). Ralph then has a vision of the Tenth Age of magic and begins having earnest conversations with the helmet, much to the befuddlement of the cast of Shadowpact. Much like someone must be standing around to declare Golgo 13 as awesome, so now must guest starts remark upon the craziness of Ralph ‘Bugfuck’ Dibny. He’s so mad, they couldn’t even manage a twentieth page of story, letting this week slide at nineteen. Also, Clark Kent is on hand to cover Booster Gold’s enormous flop of a funeral, which gives whomever was writing the scene a chance to roll out a whole bunch of Z-list adventurers, including a welcome returning superhero conventiongoer from Bulleteer. Clark is panning out to be one of the better-used semi-recurring cast members, here thinking of nothing but how he’s gonna redeem Booster by writing the best damn story he can, his idealistic striving for justice not dimmed with his powers.

So a few little peeves, but a strong issue. One only wishes this balance could be maintained on as regular schedule as the series’ releases…